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Facebook seeks tab to promote ‘high quality news’

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Mark Zuckerberg says the product would serve people who want news from professional media

WASHINGTON Facebook is working on a "news tab" that could be used to financially support "high quality and trustworthy" journalism, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday.

Mr Zuckerberg made the comments in a video conversation about the future of technology and society with Mr Mathias Doepfner, chairman of German-based media giant Axel Springer.

Mr Zuckerberg said he sees interest in building a product separate from its personalised feed that would serve people who want news from professional media.

"We want this to surface high quality and trustworthy information," he said in the video.

"There are a lot of people who have a demand (for) more news."

Mr Zuckerberg said he believes as many as 10 per cent to 15 per cent of Facebook users would be interested in a dedicated news tab.

The news tab would be created in a way to compensate news organisations whose content is selected, he noted.

"We are not going to have journalists making news," he said.

The comments marked a new direction for Facebook, which has been accused of enabling the spread of misinformation and hoaxes on its "news feed" that contains posts from friends as well as other content personalised for users.

Mr Zuckerberg reiterated that Facebook did not want to be a "publisher," a long-standing position it has taken to avoid being considered a media company but was willing to be a partner for the sector.

"It is important to me that we help people get trustworthy news and find solutions that help journalists around the world do their important work," Mr Zuckerberg said in a post accompanying the video.

He said any news tab would require "curation" or selection, and he hopes to build this in consultation with news organisations.

He noted that details of this new product were still being studied but he sees a possibility that it could help news organisations struggling with the transition to digital content.

"There is a real opportunity in a separate news service to have better monetisation for publishers than we have in news feed," he said.

"Facebook could potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure their content is available."

Meanwhile, Mr Zuckerberg is in Ireland to meet members of Parliament to discuss "a range of policy issues" in Dublin.

Mr James Lawless, a member of Ireland's parliamentary communication committee, told RTE Morning Ireland that the 34-year-old US tech billionaire was on a "charm offensive" and would now be challenged to act on his words.

"One of the big issues is - is he acting in good faith?" Mr Lawless said.

"We need to say, 'Put your money where your mouth is.'"

Political advertising is set to be a livewire issue in the talks - with European elections upcoming and ongoing controversy over its role in the Brexit vote. - AFP